Vernon Gevecker, former professor of civil engineering

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On September 17, 2009

It was the final exam in fluids class. I had studied hard and I was tired. I wore my Army fatigue jacket to classes that cool morning and, back in those days before most of us could afford the really good calculators, most of us had the old standard four-function calculators. I had a Commodore. It added, subtracted, multiplied and divided, and it had a “k” factor for repetitious multiplication, like in accounting, and that was it! It wasn’t the most useful calculator for a scientific class with integrals, “diffy q,” square roots, etc., but that’s all we had (other than the slide rule, of course, and I never did master that very well).

So, off to classes I went that morning, stuffing the Commodore in the upper pocket of my Army jacket. Around mid- to late morning it was time for my fluids final. I took my seat in the front row, said good morning to Prof. (Vernon) Gevecker, CE’31, took my jacket off and prepared to take the exam. I pulled out my Commodore calculator and – Oh no – the “on” switch had been turned on accidentally when I put it in my jacket that morning and the batteries were dead. It had been on all morning in my jacket pocket. I absolutely freaked out. Professor Gevecker asked me what was wrong, and I told him my calculator batteries were dead. He looked at me eyeball to eyeball, then started roaring out loud laughing. I didn’t see the humor in this at all, at the time.

Then, he said something like this to the class, grinning, “Would anyone here like to share their calculator with Mr. Weese during the exam? It seems he has a dead battery today.”

Fortunately, the guy next to me offered to help me out, and we shared his calculator throughout the exam, which wasn’t an easy thing to do, as I was afraid of disturbing him during the exam, but we both got through it just fine. But it was tense.

As I recall I got an “A” in that class, but regardless, Vernon Gevecker made an impression on me as a student in his overall manner, likability and knowledge of the course material. I will never forget that fluids final because I can still see him laughing.

John R. Weese, EMgt’74, MS CE’75, is a registered professional civil engineer in Florida and Pennsylvania. He lives in Lancaster County, Pa., with his wife, Judy.

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On September 17, 2009. Posted in Fall 2009, Features